May 11, 2013 8:48:38 PM
This is Mother's Day, that occasion set aside to pay tribute to the women who got us started in life. It is sometimes a day for flowery phrases and comments bordering on saccharine sweetness. The dark flip side of all this emotion is that we risk blaming our mothers for most of what went wrong in our lives. "If my mother had made me keep taking music, I could play the piano today." "If my mother had given me more social advantages, I would not feel so timid or limited." "If my mother had not fed me so much butter and eggs, my cholesterol might be normal." And so it goes.
My big complaint when I was a young girl who grew up idolizing the ice skating star Sonja Henie was, "If my mother had started me ice skating when I was 2, as Sonja Henie's parents did, I could be a champion figure skater, too." Where my mother was going to find an ice rink or frozen pond in Mississippi during those days, I don't know.
When psychoanalysis was in vogue, many emotional illnesses were dumped at our mothers' feet. After all, in more traditional days, she was the one with us all day, wasn't she? Mothers probably have been scapegoats as often as they have been saints.
My plea today is, "Cut the woman some slack." Sure, she made mistakes; and, in our worst moments, we may think we were among them. But as we grow up, we realize that only a little fewer than 50 percent of us became mothers ourselves. Then we hope our children will have forgiving hearts.
This Mother's Day may we all relax, enjoy our mothers in real time or in memory, and celebrate that extraordinary relationship.
Tell me why
My second thought is one that has consumed many of us for several weeks now, as we have heard the Boston bombing repeatedly discussed and analyzed. We know, of course, that we cannot condemn Islam because of the fanatic actions of a few Muslims, but neither can we ignore the fact that so many acts of terror, 9-11 being the most dramatic, come from a radical Islamic sub-group.
My question is why? Why do they hate us? I have read, so far, about half the Koran (translation, of course). Although it does not contain the sweeping scope of history, the development of civilization, the calling of a people -- and finally all people -- that the Judeo-Christian Bible does, it is nevertheless filled with beatitudes. (It is, in fact, repetitious enough to remind one of brainwashing techniques.) "Allah is kind." "Allah is beneficent." Or "loving." Or "faithful." Although the Koran deplores "infidels," so far, at least, I have not discovered a command to murder all dissidents.
From whence comes the hatred, for how can one murder without hatred? I do not have an answer. Perhaps someone reading this column can enlighten me. I have asked a number of people, have heard several opinions; but none seems satisfactory.
"There has been enmity since the days of Ishmael and Isaac." Is that not an awfully long time to hold a grudge?
"It is because of the Spanish Inquisition." Why did Spain want to get rid of the Moors in the first place? (I think I read that on the day Christopher Columbus sailed for the New World, the last ship of evicted Moors -- and Jews -- left Spain. Why did Spain feel the need to evict them at all?)
"It is because they want to keep women subjugated." I cannot speak to that; I would get so angry, I would become incoherent.
"It is because of oil." That does not make sense to me. We pay for the oil; immense fortunes have been built in the oil-rich Arab countries. Does that make the buyers guilty of promoting poverty?
"It is because of the Crusades." The Crusades were foolish and damaging to everything in their path, but I read that the Crusaders never acquired any wealth themselves from their efforts. Quite the contrary. And I believe that the first ones were in answer to pleas from Christians in the Holy Land to deliver them from the subjugation to Islam. Besides, Muslims have had a long history of moving to the West and often of trying to impose their faith on all, sometimes at the point of a sword. (I have known in my own lifetime a survivor of the Great Armenian Massacre, when that kind of "conversion" was imposed.)
"It is because of the Gulf Wars." I might be able to understand that, because I think war is an obscenity. Are we the instigators of the Gulf Wars? Were there no weapons of mass destruction? Had they been hidden elsewhere? I object to the idea that we have a right to impose our form of government on any other country. It is like the story of the Boy Scout who insisted on helping the old woman cross the street. The trouble was that the old woman did not wish to cross the street.
I confess to being very simple-minded. I recognize the hatred is deeply rooted in time. But for the life of me I cannot see that hatred serves any good purpose. I wish someone out there who is smarter than I am would enlighten me. Do I have any offers?
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.